Turkey: Poet prosecuted because of allegedly insulting president Erdoğan

14 October 2020
Image: Poet Ahmet Telli / Ahmet Telli on Facebook


7 October: Turkish poet Ahmet Telli is facing insult charges after a post directed at president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from an allegedly fake social media account on Telli’s name, as reported by Duvar English.

The poet gave a statement to the police on 2 June after a post from the alleged fake account said “President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the murderer of the soldiers” was published on Facebook. During an interview for Duvar, Telli said the social media account responsible for the post in question was not his, despite being in his name. “It’s an account that I didn’t create and that I don’t use. Police would figure that out if they investigated it,” Telli told Duvar

The first hearing for his case was on 7 October, but it was adjourned for 21 January, so further research can be conducted on the ownership of the post in question.

Telli is the author of more than 18 books and is considered to be one of the most important poets in Turkey today, having received several awards for his work. Earlier in his career, Telli worked as a teacher, until he ran into political problems after the 1980 military coup in Turkey.

On 1 October, a new bill that gives the Turkish government control over social media content raises concerns over the remaining spaces for free debate in Turkey. The legislation orders social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to open offices in Turkey under threats of slowing bandwidth, blocking advertisements, and making them hard to access.

Throughout 2019, Freemuse reported a total of 33 situations of artistic freedom violations in Turkey. The Turkish government was the main violator of documented breaches of artistic freedom in Turkey in 2019.

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